Pure Evil Wiki

NOTE: This page is only about his Canon incarnation as the Legends incarnation of Grand Moff Tarkin was not voted Pure Evil, and thus only the canon version of Tarkin's info and crimes should be put here.

You may fire when ready.
~ Tarkin commanding the Death Star.
Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.
~ Grand Moff Tarkin's most famous quote.

Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin is a major antagonist of the Star Wars franchise. He serves as the main antagonist of the 1977 epic space opera Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, as a cameo antagonist in the last film of the prequel trilogy Revenge of the Sith, as a recurring anti hero in the 2008-2020 animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the titular villainous main protagonist of the novel Tarkin, as a major antagonist in the 2014-2018 animated TV series Star Wars Rebels (serving as the final antagonist of Season 1, as a mentioned antagonist in Season 2, as the overarching antagonist of Season 3 and as a minor antagonist in Season 4), as the secondary antagonist of the 2016 stand-alone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and as the opening antagonist of the animated show Star Wars: The Bad Batch.

He is a high ranking Governor in the Galactic Empire and the commanding officer over the first Death Star. He infamously crossed the Moral Event Horizon by destroying Alderaan in front of Leia. When Tarkin got more invested with the type of military government he was paying his service to, it was abundantly clear that his psychopathic position in power corrupted him to a ambitious direction of showing no hesitation whatsoever in using fear as his solution to rule (although he wasn't an angel before either, at least in Disney Canon). This slowly backfires tremendously on him as when he used the Death Star to cause a ludicrously high kill count, that alone got the Galactic Empire's publicity to go downhill as quickly as ever before. Ironically, he made decisions that ultimately became the death nail to the Galactic Empire.

He was portrayed by the late Peter Cushing in A New Hope and by Wayne Pygram in Revenge of the Sith. In Rogue One, he was portrayed by Guy Henry using Cushing's facial likeness. In The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, and Rebels, he was voiced by Stephen Stanton.

What Makes Him Pure Evil?

  • During the Clone Wars, Tarkin was already shown to be very disrespectful to the Jedi, despite them rescuing him many times from Darth Tyranus and the Separatists.
  • He had the Jedi Council expel Ahsoka without a fair trial so she can be transferred to a Republic Military Trial to receive "impartial" judgment. During her trial, Tarkin gleefully prosecutes Ahsoka and tries to get her sentenced to death, even though she saved his life once.
  • During a battle simulation, he had the clone trooper training facility rigged for the droids to use live ammunition, which could have killed the Bad Batch.
  • He had a crew of space pirates burned alive.
  • Told the Bad Batch that Saw Gerrera's rebels were Separatists all so they could be tricked into killing them and innocent civilians, including elderly and children, and spying on the Batch with probe droids since Tarkin was suspicious of their loyalty.
  • When the previous action failed to show any improvements made the Kaminoans increase the power of Crosshair's inhibitor chip which ultimately brainwashed him completely and made him turn on his friends. Not to mention the innocents on Onderon that perished at Crosshair's hands can be traced to Tarkin.
  • He ordered the destruction of Kamino in order to ensure that no more clones could be bred.
  • He ordered the sterilization of Geonosis to keep the Death Star a secret, very nearly exterminating the Geonosians (who were believed to have a population of 100 billion) with chemical weapons.
  • Tarkin infamously destroyed the defenseless planet of Alderaan (with a population of around 2 billion) with the Death Star's superlaser. He at first threatened to do so to have Leia tell him the location of the hidden Rebel base, but even once she apparently did (she lied to him but he didn't know at the time), he destroyed Alderaan anyway right in front of her to prove the Death Star's (and his own) power.
  • He wished to spread fear throughout the galaxy using the Death Star, in order to keep them in line with the demands of the Empire.
  • He authorized the test-firing of the Death Star on Jedha City, then took control of the station from his rival Krennic, who is also Pure Evil.
  • He fired the Death Star at the Imperial base on Scarif, killing Orson Krennic (the very creator, though he also is not a saint, who was hit directly by the beam) along with everyone else in the vicinity, rebels and Imperials alike.
  • Even though he does kill Krennic, he only did so to steal credit for making the Death Star, completely painting Krennic out of the picture.
  • Attempted to blow up Yavin IV, just to destroy the Rebels.
  • He had two Imperial members, Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint, executed for failing him. This visibly horrified both Agent Kallus and Minister Tua.
  • Is revealed to fantasize about physically abusing his subordinates, only restraining himself for actually doing so out of professionalism, not standards.
  • He aided in torturing Kanan Jarrus to learn more about the rebels.
  • While it's not entirely clear as to when this happened by either gradually or suddenly, eventually Grand Moff Tarkin disposed of any kind of redeeming and remorseful qualities as he has shown to embrace very heinous acts to where his character no longer was the man of admiral respect as he once was.
    • The closest to a "redeeming" trait is when he seems visibly disturbed by Vader's force choking of Motti and tells Vader to release him. However, that was only because he sees choking officers in the middle of a meeting is unsophisticated and the bickering was pointless and so it's not a real disqualifying factor.
  • Despite being loyal to Palpatine, Tarkin does not show actual care for the emperor's fate and is more eager to gain the Galactic Empire for himself.
  • While he does seem to have respect for Vader, Thrawn, and possibly Pryce, it's less out of care for them and more because they are skilled and valuable to the empire.


  • Tarkin's destruction of Alderaan is one of the most iconic examples of a Moral Event Horizon and one of the most vile crimes committed onscreen.
    • For doing that he also has one of the highest kill counts of any Star Wars villain, matched only by General Armitage Hux, who destroyed Hosnian Prime, which reference books confirm claimed 77 billion lives.
  • In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "The Wrong Jedi", it can be seen that Tarkin seemingly used to have some standards back when he was younger, as he was visibly shocked, surprised and somewhat angry upon realizing that he nearly got Ahsoka Tano executed for Barriss Offee's crimes. Thus, it can be said that, over the years, Tarkin let his thirst for power to consume him and whatever morals he once had were gone by the time of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It's also possible that he acted all shocked that Ahsoka turned out to be innocent in order to save face (He still gets to knock the Jedi down a peg and convict one after all).
  • In the From a Certain Point of View anthology, it's revealed that Tarkin is having an affair with the stormtrooper TK-421 during the events of A New hope and that part of his motivation to destroy Yavin 4 was to avenge TK-421's death. However, the story is of ambiguous canonicity given Pablo Hidalgo's statement that some of the anthology's stories can be true or not but it all depends "from a certain point of view". If Tarkin did canonically love TK-421 back, that would strip him from his Pure Evil status. It could also be an obsession.
  • Alongside Emperor Palpatine and Orson Krennic, he is the one of the only three Star Wars Pure Evils to qualify as Pure Evils based on their actions in the films alone, as all the other Star Wars Pure Evils either do not appear in any of the films or do not qualify as Pure Evil based on their actions in the films, instead being ranked up to Pure Evil because of their actions in the novel spin-offs or tv series.
  • Tarkin is usually considered to be the second most evil Star Wars character, behind Emperor Palpatine.
  • He is the first Pure Evil introduced in Star Wars.

External Links


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Animated Features
Blackwolf | Lord Nekron | Hexxus | Rasputin | Drej Queen Susquehana | Zeebad | Black Wolf | Drago Bludvist

Live-Action Films
Grand Moff Tarkin | Ben Childress | Emperor Palpatine | The Entity | Carter J. Burke | Hans Gruber | Anton Bartok | Colonel William Stuart | Screwface | Lothos | Henry Evans | Karl Hochman | Howard Payne | Vic Deakins | Mason Wren | Colonel Ives | Wat Tambor | Kingpin | Bullseye | James Moriarty | Guy of Lusignan | Raynald of Châtillon | General Grievous | Doctor Doom | Benjamin Juma | King Piccolo | Nikolai Wolf | Medusa | Koba | Adam | Doom | Ajax | Mr. Barron | Poppy Adams | Janson | Clancy Gray | Jatemme Manning | Vector | Nova | Captain Morton | Grigori Rasputin

Live-Action TV
Cigarette-Smoking Man | Angelus | Warren Mears | Nina Myers | Phillip Bauer | Cheng Zhi | Caleb | Abu Fayed | Benjamin Juma | Alan Wilson

Prince Humperdinck | Count Rugen

See Also
Buena Vista International Pure Evils | Buffyverse Pure Evils | Disney Pure Evils | DreamWorks Pure Evils | Die Hard Pure Evils | How to Train Your Dragon Pure Evils | Star Wars Pure Evils | Tim Burton Pure Evils | X-Men Movies Pure Evils

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Animated Features
Coachman | Horned King | Percival C. McLeach | Scar | Judge Claude Frollo | Shan Yu | Commander Rourke | Von Talon | Dr. Facilier | King Runeard

Live-Action Films
Princess Mombi | Judge Doom | Andrei Strasser | Charles "Trout" Walker | Jadis the White Witch | Lord Cutler Beckett | Mr. Mercer | Ilosovic Stayne | Nizam | Blackbeard | Butch Cavendish | Captain Phasma | Orson Krennic | Grand Moff Tarkin | Armando Salazar | Jafar (2019) | Scar (2019) | Queen Ingrith | Emperor Palpatine | Opal Koboi

Animated Television
Taurus Bulba | Huntsman | Bill Cipher | Zhan Tiri | General Lunaris | Cahu

Live-Action TV
Victor Krane

Shere Khan | Ursula | Dr. Facilier | Elizabeth Bathory

Video Games
Atticus Thorn | Jolly Roger

Ansem, Seeker of Darkness | Xemnas

Constance Hatchaway

Mayor Leonardo Lionheart | Scar | Jafar | King Almighty | Mad Ducktor

See Also
20th Century Studios Pure Evils | Aladdin Pure Evils | Buena Vista International Pure Evils | DuckTales Pure Evils | Gargoyles Pure Evils | Marvel Cinematic Universe Pure Evils | Once Upon a Time Pure Evils | Pinocchio Pure Evils | Pirates of the Caribbean Pure Evils | Pixar Pure Evils | Star Wars Pure Evils | Tim Burton Pure Evils

            Lucasfilm Logo.png Pure Evils

Live-Action Films
Grand Moff Tarkin | Emperor Palpatine | Mola Ram | Queen Bavmorda | General Grievous | Captain Phasma | Orson Krennic

See Also
Star Wars Pure Evils

           Star Wars logo.png Pure Evils

Disney Canon
Confederacy of Independent Systems
Darth Sidious | General Grievous | Wat Tambor | Dr. Nuvo Vindi | Keeper Agruss

Galactic Empire
Emperor Palpatine | Grand Moff Tarkin | Orson Krennic

First Order
Emperor Palpatine | Captain Phasma

Pong Krell

Legends Canon
Durge | Cronal | Demagol | Haazen | Aleema Keto | Darth Krayt | Exar Kun | Vitiate | Onimi | Kul Teska

Other Continuities
The Star Wars
Darth Vader
Star Wars: Visions